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Forage Identification: Yellow sweetclover

Department of Plant Sciences

Yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis Lam.)

Adaptation:  
Biennial legume. Adapted to soils with moderate to excellent drainage and do well on alkaline, but not acid soils. Drought tolerant and exceptionally winter hardy. Not a true clover.

Yellow sweetclover

Growth Habitat:
Biennial, erect, coarse stems, 18 to 60 inches tall. Leaflets serrated margins. Deep taproot.

Yellow sweetclover

Plant Characteristics:
Pinnately trifoliolate, leaflets serrated over entire margin, stipules small not toothed. Long racemes bearing 10-96 florets which are yellow.

Yellow sweetclover leaf

Seed Characteristics:
Mitt shaped. Greenish-yellow.

Yellow sweetclover seeds

Important Identifying Characteristics:
Pinnately compound with 3 leaflets per leaf. Long racemes bearing yellow florets.

Primary Uses:
Used mostly for permanent pasture, but they can be cut for hay or silage. Green manure crop. Nitrogen fixer.


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